Wisdom Teeth: Removal, Maintenance and Cavity Prevention

What is causing my toothache? A guide to different types of toothaches

If you are having a toothache you may be interested to know what the difference is between a range of different sensations and aches you can have in your mouth. 

Temperature or touch sensitivity

Although there are no nerve endings in the enamel, or white outer layer of your teeth, decay in that enamel can lead to cavities deep enough to affect the dentin layer inside your tooth. This causes many issues with teeth being sensitive to touch or temperature. A dentist needs to review the tooth surface to find these holes and fill them before the holes become deeper. 

Cracked teeth/sharp edges

This is caused by a gradual weakening of the tooth over time and can be exacerbated by decay under the surface of the tooth. Biting down on hard foods like ice or popcorn kernels can crack a tooth that has already been worn away by the forces involved in biting and chewing. The exact treatment will depend on the location of the tooth and the severity of the damage but can involve either blunting the edges of the cracked, filling the crack or capping the tooth. 

Severe pain on or around a tooth

A severe toothache may be caused by an abscess, which is caused by a buildup of bacteria inside your tooth that can be detected by an x-ray. The infection causes a buildup of pressure in the tooth pulp that can become painful. This generally requires antibiotic treatment and can require a root canal treatment or extraction to remove the dead material within the tooth. An abscess can be extremely serious if left untreated, as the infected material can enter the bloodstream if the abscess bursts and lead to sepsis.  

Deep pains in the jawbone or the back of the mouth

The modern jawbone can struggle to accommodate the size of wisdom teeth, and as a result, teeth can grow at an awkward angle which impinges on the root system of the other teeth in the jaw. This painful condition such as an impacted tooth occurs when the tooth cannot erupt correctly.  This is usually resolved by removing the wisdom teeth. 

How can I get help? 

You and your dentist can work together to determine the exact cause of your toothache and what can be done about it. You can make this easier by showing your dentist the exact location of your toothache and describing the pain and what triggers it as closely as possible. Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions as soon as possible because many causes of toothaches can become worse over time if they are ignored.